Brand Guys Are Tied Tight

Steffan Postaer has just compared advertising to fly-fishing. Norman Maclean would not be pleased.

Brand advertising in its highest form is like fly-fishing: sleek, urbane, wise. Think glorious anthems, the launch of new campaigns. Fishing with lures is one step down. It’s brand advertising, packaged and distilled. Though not a lavish opus, it still requires craftsmanship. Grinder TV, the churn and burn of most advertising, is like fishing with live bait –messy, very effective, yet still true fishing. And then you have snagging. Perhaps unfairly, direct marketing is accused of being equally vicious in terms of “catching” customers.
Despite agency rhetoric about “proprietary tools” and “ROI” there is, as far as I know, no known form of marketing that can snag a customer from the general population. We still have to angle for consumers, attracting them with lures, hooking them with promises. That is why advertising, in its purist form, is an art, a lot like fly-fishing.

I happen to agree with Postaer that advertising and fishing are connected at the hip waders. But his hierarchical breakdown leaves me wondering about my own place in the ecosystem.
While I mull that over, here’s some “purity of the sport” video footage to ogle:

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Postaer is really struggling to come up with the second original idea in his career. The fishing analogy has already been presented—and published—by Andrew Jaffe.

  2. Thank you for posting, David. I do want to add the following, not as a rebuttal to Fishy B (a vulgar bottom feeder), but as an addendum: Half my business comes via direct marketing. I have much respect for this means of reaching consumers. Choice (from the targeted consumer) is what makes it no more or less reliable than any other form. I am not stating any type of marketing as “snagging.” What is suspicious, however, is our intense pursuit of “ROI.” When we connive to get customers at the expense of integrity I believe the line gets crossed. An example of this would be a mailing that pretends to be crucial information but, in fact, is a sell sheet. Or when we prey on the fears of our fellows: If YOU don’t buy our product YOU will suffer. Seen in this light, no form of advertising (direct or brand) is without culpability. Something to think about as we bait our hooks.